tv 60 Minutes CBS March 21, 2021 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
prosecuting the capitol assault of january 6th. >> we're over 400 criminal cases which is a pretty amazing number, i think, in a very limited time frame. >> 400 defendants? >> correct, 400 defendants. and the bulk of those cases are federal criminal charges and >> we're over 400 criminal cases which is a pretty amazing number, i think, in a very limited time frame. >> 400 defendants? >> correct, 400 defendants. and the bulk of those cases are federal criminal charges and significant federal felony charges. five, ten, 20 year penalties. ( ticking ) >> it doesn't change as you climb the ladder. there are always going to be people, because of what you look like, that will question your
qualifications. >> lloyd austin climbed every rung in the army, starting at west point, and rising all the way to four-star general, many times breaking barriers as the first african american ever to hold the job. >> i would go someplace with my staff, and we were wearing civilian clothes. somebody would come out to meet the-- meet the general, and i wasn't the guy that they walked up to. ( ticking ) >> good morning! >> this is what going back to school looks like during a pandemic. >> i've given you your assignment, let's get on it! >> the c.d.c. has been studying this school district to find out how the coronavirus spreads. >> when we first started this project with the c.d.c. i was convinced that we were going to have more transmission in middle and high school classrooms then we had in elementary. what surprised me as we worked through this is that it was actually the exact opposite. ( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm john dickerson.
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>> scott pelley: until this past friday, federal prosecutor, michael sherwin, was leading the largest criminal investigation in u.s. history. sherwin's team has charged hundreds of suspects in january's assault on the capitol. sherwin has said little. but, wednesday, before he moved to his next assignment for the department of justice, he sat down with us to explain the nationwide dragnet that began after the riot. >> michael sherwin: as looking eight, nine weeks out from the events, we're over 400 criminal cases, which is a pretty amazing number, i think, in a very limited time frame. >> pelley: 400 defendants? >> sherwin: correct. 400 defendants. and the bulk of those cases are federal criminal charges, and significant federal felony charges. five, 10, 20-year penalties. of those 400 cases, the majority of those, 80, 85%, maybe even
90, you have individuals, both inside and outside the capitol, that breached the capitol, trespassed. you also have individuals, roughly over 100, that we've charged with assaulting federal officers and local police officers. the 10% of the cases i'll call the more complex conspiracy cases where we do have evidence, it's in the public record where individual militia groups from different facets: oath keepers, three percenters, proud boys, did have a plan. we don't know what the full plan is, to come to d.c., organize, and breach the capitol in some manner. >> pelley: michael sherwin was an eyewitness to that alleged plan. as acting u.s. attorney for the district of columbia, the top prosecutor, he dressed that morning in running clothes and joined d.c. police at the president's rally. >> sherwin: and i wanted to see the crowd, gauge the temperature of the crowd, it was like a carnival environment.
people were selling shirts, popcorn, cotton candy, i saw hot dogs. as the morning progressed, i noticed though there were some people that weren't the typical, like, carnival-type people. i noticed there were some people in tactical gear. they were tacked up with kevlar vests. they had the military helmets on. those individuals, i noticed, left the speeches early. capitol and sherwin walked with them. >> sherwin: you could see it was getting more riled up. and more people with bullhorns chanting and yelling. and it became more aggressive. where it was initially pro- trump, it digressed to anti- government, anti-congress, anti- institutional. and then i eventually saw people climbing the scaffolding. the scaffolding was being set up
for the inauguration. when i saw people climbing up the scaffolding, hanging from it, hanging flags, i was like, "this is going bad fast." >> pelley: 49-year-old michael sherwin is a federal prosecutor from miami. after successful terrorism and espionage cases, the trump administration asked him to fill a temporary vacancy leading the washington u.s. attorney's office. that's how, on january 6th, sherwin found himself launching a 50-state manhunt, made urgent by what was coming in just two weeks. >> sherwin: after the 6th, we had an inauguration on the 20th. so i wanted to ensure, and our office wanted to ensure that there was shock and awe that we could charge as many people as possible before the 20th. and it worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to d.c. because they're like, "if we go there, we're going to get charged." >> pelley: more than 100 arrests were made before the inauguration.
>> sherwin: so the first people we went after, i'm going to call the internet stars, right? the low-hanging fruit. the zip tie guy, the rebel flag guy, the camp auschwitz guy. we wanted to take out those individuals that essentially were thumbing their noses at the public for what they did. >> pelley: sherwin told us the most serious cases, so far, focus on about two dozen members of far right militias. was there a premeditated plan to breach the capitol? >> sherwin: that's what we're trying to determine right now. we've charged multiple conspiracy cases, and some of those involve single militia groups, some of them involve multiple militia groups. for example, individuals from ohio militia were coordinating with the, a virginia militia group of oath keepers, talking about coming to the capital region, talking about-- no specific communication about breaching the capitol-- but talking about going there, taking back the house.
talking about stopping the steal. talking about how they need a show of force in d.c. and we see that in december. >> pelley: at the center of this video are members of the oath keepers in military gear. michael sherwin says their tight, single-file formation is evidence of a military-style assault. >> sherwin: that's what you learn in close, you know, order combat, how you stay with your team to breach a room where maybe there's a terrorist, to breach a room where maybe there was an al qaeda operative. >> pelley: the infantry calls it a stack. >> sherwin: correct. a stack or a ranger file, a column, a close-quarter combat column going up that staircase. >> pelley: the oath keepers in that stack, what have they been charged with? >> sherwin: the most significant charge is obstruction. that's a 20-year felony. they breached the capitol with the intent, the goal to obstruct official proceedings, the counts, the electoral college count. >> pelley: defense attorneys for some oath keepers declined to
comment. others told us their clients are innocent. prosecutors say 139 police officers were assaulted. brian sicknick, died the next day. this month, sherwin charged two men with assaulting sicknick with a spray designed to repel bears. the medical examiner has not yet determined how officer sicknick died. if the medical examiner determines that his death was directly related to the bear spray would you imagine murder charges at that point? >> sherwin: if evidence directly relates that chemical to his death, yeah. we have causation, we have a link. yes. in that scenario, correct, that's a murder case. >> pelley: there could have been many more deaths, but sherwin says two dangerous plots failed. what were the intentions of the suspect who was found with the 11 molotov cocktail bombs? >> sherwin: so you're referring,
scott, to lonnie coffman. and i think this is emblematic, that that day, as bad as it was, could have been a lot worse. it's actually amazing more people weren't killed. we found ammunition in his vehicle. and also, in the bed of the vehicle were found 11 molotov cocktails. they were filled with gasoline and styrofoam. he put styrofoam in those, according to the a.t.f., because when you throw those, when they explode, the styrofoam will stick to you and act like napalm. >> pelley: coffman's lawyer did not respond to us. in the other plot, the f.b.i. is looking for this person seen near pipe bombs that were planted by the capitol. why didn't they explode? >> sherwin: it appears they weren't armed properly. and there could be a whole host of reasons. but they were not hoax devices, they were real devices. >> pelley: there are many lesser cases, about 140 or so, involving charges such as trespassing. brent mayr is a criminal defense attorney who represents one of the defendants.
what are some of the possible defenses that you expect to see in these many cases? >> brent mayr: so the first one is going to be a lack of criminal intent. a person may have gone into the capitol, but they didn't go into the capitol intending to obstruct or to impede or to interfere or to damage or anything else like that. i think that's going to be the one most common defense. >> pelley: mayr's client, chris grider is a 39-year-old texas winemaker. he's wearing a yellow "don't tread on me" flag. why does intent matter? >> mayr: intent is a critical element in almost every single criminal offense, okay? we talk about it in the laws in terms of the mens rea, the culpable mental state. the person intending to do something that is against the law. >> pelley: look, your client, mr. grider, was at the head of the mob that was attacking the entrance to the house chamber.
he appears to give a man a helmet, which is used to smash the window there, just before ashli babbitt is shot to death. what is his defense? >> mayr: the images that you see in the video only tell part of the story. that's the biggest problem and complaint that we have with the government, when chris is approaching the door, he's not yelling at the police officers. he's not-- he's not yelling, "kill pence." he's not yelling obscenities. >> pelley: but, look, when the man is having trouble smashing through the door, your client hands him a helmet. >> mayr: at that point, it was, take the helmet and get out of here. you know, "take the helmet. i need to get out of here." if chris wanted to do damage, he could've done it his self. >> pelley: grider faces charges including obstruction, destruction of property and disorderly conduct, though
prosecutor michael sherwin charged grider, he agrees not everyone that day had criminal intent. >> sherwin: we have to protect the first amendment. the great majority of the people there were protesters. when do you cross that line? you cross the line when you cross a police line aggressively. you throw something at a cop. you hit a cop. you go into a restricted area, knowing you're not supposed to be there. these are the plus factors that cross that line from a protester to a rioter. >> pelley: has the role of former president trump been part of your investigation? >> sherwin: it's unequivocal that trump was the magnet that brought the people to d.c. on the 6th. now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach? what i could tell you is this, based upon, again, what we see in the public record. and what we see in public statements in court. we have plenty of people-- we have soccer moms from ohio that were arrested saying "well, i did this because my president said i had to take back our house."
that moves the needle towards that direction. maybe the president is culpable for those actions. but also, you see in the public record too militia members saying, "you know what? we did this because trump just talks a big game. he's just all talk. we did what he wouldn't do." >> pelley: in short, you have investigators looking into the president's role? >> sherwin: we have people looking at everything, correct. everything's being looked at. >> pelley: but, so far, prosecutors have not charged sedition-- attempting to overthrow the government. i'm not a lawyer, but the way i read the sedition statute, it says that, "sedition occurs when anyone opposes by force the authority of the united states, or by force hinders or delays the execution of any law of the united states." seems like a very low bar, and i wonder why you're not charging that now? >> sherwin: okay, so i don't think it's a low bar, scott, but i will tell you this. i personally believe the
evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements. >> pelley: do you anticipate sedition charges against some of these suspects? >> sherwin: i believe the facts do support those charges. and i think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that, scott. this is going to be a long-term investigation >> pelley: the biden administration asked michael sherwin to stay through the transition. now, he plans to return to the miami u.s. attorney's office. >> pelley: what do you want people to understand about this investigation? >> sherwin: that we tried to move quickly to ensure that there is trust in the rule of law. you are going to be charged based upon your conduct and your conduct only. not what you may have posted about the election, not what you may have posted about different political views. the world looks to us for the rule of law and order and democracy. and that was shattered, i think, on that day. and we have to build ourselves up again.
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>> david martin: more than 70 years after the armed services were integrated, it is still a fact of life in the u.s. military that african americans are more likely to be disciplined and less likely to be promoted than whites. even the most successful black officers routinely feel the sting of racial bias while large segments of the rank and file believe the system is stacked against them. the military has made attempts to deal with inequality before but this time it's happening under the eye of lloyd austin, this country's first african american secretary of defense. a former soldier who experienced discrimination first-hand. >> lloyd austin: it doesn't change as you climb the ladder. you still get the doubts. there are always going to be people, because of what you look like, that will question your qualifications. >> martin: lloyd austin climbed every rung in the army, starting at west point, and rising all
the way to four-star general, many times breaking barriers as the first african american ever to hold the job. >> austin: there's probably not a job that i had since i was a lieutenant colonel where some people didn't question whether or not i was qualified to-- to take that job. it's a world i live in. and i'm sure that the other officers that you talked to would probably say the same thing. there's not a day in my life, david, when i didn't wake up and think about the fact that i was a black man. >> martin: a number of the african americans that we have talked to for this story have said when they are the only one in the room, they feel as if they're not being listened to. did you have that experience? >> austin: absolutely had that experience. and i found ways to operate, to adapt. >> martin: in 1995 as the 82nd airborne's first african american operations officer, then lieutenant colonel austin adapted by having someone else
give his briefings- someone he felt white officers were more likely to listen to. was that a white officer? >> austin: it was. >> martin: did you feel that was a conscious bias, people not ready to listen to you? >> austin: it absolutely was a conscious bias. >> martin: bias didn't end even when he was a four-star general. >> austin: i would go someplace with my staff, and we were wearing civilian clothes. somebody would come out to meet the-- meet the general, and i wasn't the guy that they walked up to. >> general c. q. brown: people have a perception that african americans can't be in-- in key positions just because you're african american. they just assume that it's always going to be somebody else. >> martin: general c.q. brown rose from fighter pilot to become the first african american in history to head the air force, which makes him a member of the joint chiefs of staff. the last time there was an african american in this room was nearly 30 years ago when colin powell was chairman of the joint chiefs.
>> brown: the target today is actually a weapons cache. >> martin: we met then- lieutenant general brown nearly six years ago at his operations center in the persian gulf where he was commanding the air war against isis. look, there it goes. >> brown: there you go. >> martin: it was all about destroying the enemy, but there was something else going on we didn't see. >> brown: there's a world that i live in as an african american and there's a world that i also live in as a minority inside the united states air force. >> george floyd: i can't breathe! >> martin: those two worlds collided one day last may when a minneapolis police office pressed his knee into george floyd's neck. >> brown: and the fact-- just the-- how long he was in the position he was in, and how nonchalant the cop looked-- and that-- that-- that actually-- i mean, that-- that bothered me tremendously. >> martin: brown felt compelled to send out this message to his airmen. >> brown: here's what i'm thinking about. i'm thinking about how full i am with emotion, not just for george floyd but the many
african americans that have suffered the same fate as george floyd. >> martin: with that, a lifetime of frustration came boiling out. >> brown: i'm thinking about te pressure i felt to perform error-free, especially for supervisors i perceived had expected less from me as an african american. i'm thinking about having to represent by working twice as hard to prove their expectations and perceptions of african americans were invalid. it-- was really what i wanted to get off my chest. i had no intention for it to go as big as it did, but i'm glad it did, because i think it helped generate the conversation that many of us are having today about race relations in the united states. >> martin: so far, the video has been viewed four million times >> black lives matter! black lives matter! >> martin: with black lives matter protests breaking out across the country, the air force inspector general conducted a survey on racial disparity which produced eye- opening responses. "two out of every five (african americans) do not trust their chain of command to address
racism, bias and unequal opportunities." "three out of every five believe they do not receive the same benefit of the doubt as their white peers if they get in trouble." there were 123,000 responses in just two weeks. >> brown: really an outpouring of emotion from our airmen that i've not seen in the time i've been wearing this uniform. >> martin: for senior master sergeant sapphira morgan... >> sapphira morgan: hey guys! how you guys doing? >> martin: ...the survey was long overdue. >> morgan: i think people were so just elated to finally have an opportunity to speak, when you hold in things for so long without being able to express yourself. and then you're given an avenue to speak. people ate it up. >> martin: the air force is now conducting another survey to include hispanics and other minorities. but the hard data from the first survey is now a matter of record. "young black enlisted members are almost twice as likely as
white enlisted members to be involuntarily discharged based on misconduct." black airmen of all ranks are "57% more likely to face courts martial." as a senior sergeant, morgan had been seeing numbers like that for years. >> morgan: i felt sick the first time i saw how many black airmen had article 15s or discharges in comparison to white airmen. across the air force. and the thing that i think hurt the most was that no one wanted to have the conversation. >> brad webb: thanks for joining us again. >> martin: last summer that conversation began at randolph air force base in texas with a program called "real talk," hosted by lieutenant general brad webb. >> webb: obviously, the air force has fundamentally had a wake-up call. >> martin: in which black airmen like chief master sergeant michael holland got a chance to speak truth to air force power. >> michael holland: this is brave for us to address these things.
>> martin: you said to general webb, "this is brave." what did you mean? >> holland: it takes courage to talk about racism, you know, in america period, but really in the air force where it's-- white male dominated. there's these unwritten rules. >> martin: he told webb black airmen have to abide by unwritten rules which don't apply to their white counterparts. what are some of the unwritten rules? >> holland: like, change your posture when you walk into the room. >> martin: change your posture? >> holland: yeah, so, i'm 5'11, right, 220 pounds. a black big guy is scary and threatening. so you strip those things away from you to make people feel comfortable with you. >> martin: what are some of the other things you have to strip? >> holland: voice, right. voice, you don't want to be loud. >> martin: any other unwritten rules? >> holland: yeah, you got to be better. >> martin: for lieutenant general webb the sessions were a revelation. did you hear things that surprised you? >> webb: oh yeah, i mean, any number of things. >> martin: for example: >> webb: the african american
community inside the air force is dealing with an extra load that the white caucasian community does not deal with. am i being intimidating by the way i talk? am i being intimidating by the way i sit? there's a mental checklist that has to occur here that i was never oriented to ever in my air force career. >> lots of great comments out there on social media. >> martin: episodes of "real talk," including the one with sergeant sapphira morgan, were streamed live on facebook. it was up there for all to see, what was the reaction? >> morgan: negative and positive. i've had countless people say, "i never knew." but i've also had some black people say, "why are we exposing some of the things that we deal with to people who may not care?" >> holland: everybody's not for this. it's hard to accept, but that's you know, truth. >> martin: the people who are not for this, what do they say? >> holland: nothing, right.
and that's what makes it difficult. you know, you don't know what their biases are, right? >> martin: have you ever encountered a real racist-- >> holland: oh yeah. >> martin: --in the air force? >> holland: absolutely. had a supervisor, you know, who told me i will never succeed under him. the best thing i could do is survive while he was there and to stay away from him. >> martin: what'd you do? >> holland: stayed away from him. >> this racial disparity... >> martin: the facebook sessions were not webb's first time in the hot seat. he was the busiest man in the white house situation room on the night of the bin laden raid. after 37 years in the air force, he's now in charge of education and training. before george floyd and the events of last summer, how had the air force dealt with race? >> webb: we had training sessions, you know, that was principally power point slide oriented and it was very formalized.
>> martin: did it have any impact on you? >> webb: marginal, i mean, i have to be honest. >> martin: african americans represent 17% of all the active duty troops in the military, but only eight percent of the officers. and in key jobs, like air force pilots, it's worse. the top general, c.q. brown, knows that first-hand from his flying days in the 1990s. what was the percentage of black pilots back then? >> brown: two percent. >> martin: and what is it today? >> brown: it is still two percent. >> martin: what does that say? >> brown: we haven't made much progress. >> martin: retired admiral mike mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs during the bush and obama administrations, set out to change the nearly all white complexion of the senior ranks. was it racial bias? >> mike mullen: i don't think it was conscious bias, but i think it was institutional bias, if you will. >> martin: so, what is the
institutional bias? >> mullen: i have a phrase i use called ducks pick ducks. and when you have white guys picking, they pick other white guys. that, to me, is the bias and that's what the leadership has to break up to make sure that we're not in that kind of a situation. >> martin: mullen met then lieutenant general lloyd austin in iraq and in 2009 brought him to washington as the first african american director of the chairman's powerful joint staff. >> austin: he said "you know, i really want to diversify my staff." and he knew that talent was out there. but he knew that if he didn't lead the organization to-- to identify that talent and bring that talent on board, it wouldn't happen. >> martin: there's that picture of you standing with the african-american generals and admirals on your-- your staff. >> mullen: i mean, general austin came into my office and said, "i want you to come down to the joint staff room for a minute." and i walked into that room and
they were all standing there. and the photographer was ready to go. and i said, i asked them, i said, "what's this all about?" and one of them said, "it's about history." >> martin: turns out it was only a moment in history. 11 years later, these are the people who fill the top positions on the joint staff. have you looked at the website of the joint staff lately? >> austin: i have. >> martin: top 25, no african americans. >> austin: i suspect that'll change in the near term-- >> martin: it's been, what, more than 70 years since the armed forces were integrated. why do you think it's-- it's taken this long? >> austin: i think, things have moved slowly in america, david. i think, the military, in a lot of ways, has led the way for diversity. but you know as well as i do that if you look at our senior leadership right now, it's not representative of what's in the ranks. >> martin: what in your job can you personally do to make a change?
>> austin: i'm the guy that makes the recommendation to the president on who our senior flag officers ought to be going forward. ( ticking ) >> an f-22 pilot felt discriminated against in the air force. >> big, black with a deep voice. you are intimidating. >> at 60minutesovertime.com. when you buy this plant at walmart, they can buy more plants from metrolina greenhouses so abe and art can grow more plants. so they can hire vilma... and wendy... and me. so, more people can go to work. so, more days can start with kisses. when you buy this plant at walmart. ♪ so you want to make the best burger ever? when you buy this plant then make it!
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it's taking a psychological toll on children and parents. president biden told the nation that it may have set back an entire generation of students by a year or more. everyone wants kids to return to school, but how do you do that safely? we thought we might find some answers by visiting one of the first school districts in the country to work with researchers from the centers for disease control and prevention on a study designed to understand how coronavirus spreads within school buildings. schools in marietta, georgia stayed open through some of the highest periods of infection in the community. but it hasn't been easy. it's required money, constant vigilance, and, for those in charge, comfort with uncertainty. >> grant rivera: i never know what tomorrow is going to bring. at times where i'm, like, going for a walk by myself, i actually try to remember what i used to do. good morning, good to see you. >> good morning. >> dickerson: grant rivera is the superintendent of marietta city schools, overseeing 12 schools, almost 9,000 kids, and
plenty of concerned parents. >> rivera: there have been decisions that i've made throughout this pandemic, where i definitely have-- have-- have angered some people. and there have been some people that have told me they would legally challenge it. there have been some people that told me i didn't know how to do my job. >> dickerson: rivera thought he was doing his job when he delayed opening schools last august. teachers were worried about their health, and covid testing facilities were backlogged, making it hard to quickly identify those infected. but 300 parents signed a public letter disagreeing with his decision, and some went a step further. i heard they took out an ad in the paper? >> rivera: yeah and-- >> dickerson: wait, no what is that like? >> rivera: and my heart sinks as you ask me that question. >> dickerson: why? >> rivera: because we made a decision that was based on what we felt was aligned with the science and the data. and it's real simple, right? we couldn't test. so we could have people in the building and have no clue whether they should be there or not. >> dickerson: by september, testing capability had improved, and marietta city schools
started re-opening. in-person instruction has been available four days a week at all grade levels since early november. the district has spent more than seven and a half million dollars retro-fitting itself for the pandemic. most of the money came from the federal government. >> well good morning boys and girls. >> dickerson: at west side elementary school, partitions separate the desks. in class, everyone must wear a mask, some students attend virtually. facilities are constantly being cleaned, and ventilation systems have been upgraded. even returned library books must sit in quarantine before going back on the shelves. >> good morning. >> dickerson: students who ride buses carry radio frequency identification tags, so that if one tests positive, the school district can contact families of those who sat close by. >> rivera: we've had situations where we've had 60 close contacts for one positive case: so we have an entire team-- in three different languages, who
are available on a moment's notice. and, literally, we pull the seating charts, we pull the rosters. and then we immediately start notifying families. >> dickerson: students who might have been exposed to the virus must quarantine for seven to ten days, disrupting their lives and their family's all over again. >> rivera: so i can call you at 10:00 tonight and tell you that your child was sitting within six feet of another child who tested positive, and you may not be able to go to work tomorrow, and you may not have child care. >> dickerson: these procedures have been tailored through close consultation with c.d.c. researchers who spent two months mapping positive cases in the marietta school district to determine how the coronavirus spreads through schools. >> rivera: when we first started this project with the c.d.., i was convinced that we were going to have more transmission in middle and high school classrooms than we had in elementary. what surprised me as we worked through this is that it was actually the exact opposite that we were seeing more potential transmission in an elementary classroom than we were in a middle and high school classroom.
>> dickerson: and what was the ultimate reason for that? >> rivera: well, so think about the dynamics in an elementary classroom. you've got a child that walks in, that stays in that classroom seven hours, eight hours. those kids are mixing and milling. they-- they may go to the rug, they may go to small group. and i think that's where we figured out: wait a minute, we got to reengineer our elementary classrooms because this data is compelling. >> dickerson: kindergarten teacher sarah pulley used to huddle with her class on the rug for reading time. now, she teaches from the front of the class and limits small group time and close interactions. any student in marietta can choose to learn online. in the elementary schools, most kids are back in class. but over at the high school, most still attend by zoom. researchers believe that may explain some of the reduced risk in the high school, but it also makes it harder for teachers like andy cole, who calls students at home his "zoomies,"
and those in class his "roomies." >> andy cole: zoomies, questions? roomies, questions? >> dickerson: and what are the challenges of trying to teach when you've got roomies and zoomies? >> cole: i always worry that i'm leaving them out. >> dickerson: because your back's to them or because it's inert and it's on a screen? >> cole: you know, sometimes it's just the human being in front of you-- definitely takes a lot of your attention. and with these guys, i-- i do get concerned that, you know, they're going to forget school. at least how that-- that-- that structure of school and those shared experiences. >> dickerson: some students in marietta told us they liked virtual education-- there's no commute, the health risk is lower-- but for others it's been a disaster. richard rowe was getting a's and b's before the pandemic. when instruction went virtual, he says, he started getting c's and d's. >> richard rowe: i felt really helpless because i really couldn't do anything. i-- i also felt-- scared because
i didn't really want to go to my teachers. i didn't really go to my parents, as well, because-- >> dickerson: why not? >> rowe: i didn't want 'em to be disappointed in me. >> dickerson: did you have an idea where-- why that was happening? >> rowe: i have a.d.d., so i have a hard time paying attention. >> dickerson: and so what was it like? you came back. >> rowe: it felt good, it felt really good to get out of the house. it felt really good to see my friends again. >> dickerson: his grades have gone up again too. he was recently named student of the month. do you think it would have changed your life forever if you'd had to stay home and-- and learn virtually? >> rowe: yeah. >> dickerson: what do you think the ultimate result would have been for you? >> rowe: i don't know, i really don't really like thinking about that. >> dickerson: too scary? >> rowe: yes, way too scary for me. >> dickerson: what's been scary for the teachers is the disease itself. the local educator's union organized protests in the school district bordering marietta
after three teachers died there from complications of covid-19. the c.d.c. researchers tracking marietta elementary schools found that "approximately one half" of the school-based cases they identified seemed to begin with "educator-to-educator transmission" and then spread to students. >> rivera: we had two clusters of cases that originated with adults in our elementary schools that accounted for half of all the positive school-based transmission cases. you show me a vaccine in each of those arms, and i'll show you two clusters that didn't exist and kids who didn't lose-- lose school because of it. >> sarah pulley: i'm not going to look. >> dickerson: educators in marietta started getting their shots a week and a half ago. but many here and throughout the country are still not fully vaccinated. the c.d.c. continues to call for social distancing and mask- wearing. yet schools in nearly two-thirds of georgia counties don't require masks, and social distancing is often hard because of class size and the way that
teachers like shonray brooks try to establish a connection with their students. >> shonray brooks: they have to know that you're going to be willing to interact with them, be willing to listen to them, not be upset when they are-- confused you want to put your hands out, i guess is what i'm saying, and say, "come towards me," more so than just hands off. >> dickerson: so this is more than about just six feet away from each other. this is right at the heart of your ability to teach, and for their ability to learn? >> brooks: it is. >> dickerson: for 15 years, shonray brooks has taught english in the emanuel county school district, which does not require masks. in early august, after receiving a negative covid test, she went to work at swainsboro middle school. and got covid after barely a week of teaching. for nearly 40 days she lay unconscious, on a ventilator, fighting for her life, while her family tried to comfort her over facetime. >> i know you probably can't hear me or understand but i love you. >> brooks: it's a little scary.
it's a little heartbreaking, so. >> dickerson: after months of physical therapy, she's still having a lot of health problems. she doesn't know if she'll ever be able to teach again. after you were sick was there any change in the school policy about masks or anything? >> brooks: not that i'm aware of. >> dickerson: does that strike you as strange? >> brooks: were there probably moments when i wondered about that? sure. >> dickerson: brooks says she doesn't blame the school district. the superintendent of emanuel county schools did not respond to our requests for comment. some school districts don't require masks. what do you think of that? >> rivera: you know, i respect their decision, i just choose to lead differently in marietta. >> dickerson: that was very diplomatic. >> rivera: i'm trying. trying not to-- >> dickerson: because you disagree with that choice. >> rivera: okay, i'll be honest with you: i think that some people have let the decision regarding masks to be political. this is not political. this is about what's safe enough to open schoolhouse doors.
>> dickerson: but once you open those doors, the desire to return to normal pulls at the mask strings. >> fight, fight, fight! go blue! >> dickerson: cheerleaders want to cheer... ♪ ♪ ♪ the high school band wants to play... kids want to laugh with their friends at lunch. no set of decisions illustrates the push and pull of re-opening more than the ones superintendent rivera has faced around indoor athletics. though he ended the season early for the freshman and j.v., rivera says he allowed varsity sports to continue because he knew how important college scholarships are for some students. but sports did cause problems at the high school. >> rivera: as we did the study with the c.d.c., we had 17 cases in a two-month period that we could link to school-based transmission. of those 17, 15 were related to athletics. >> dickerson: that feels like a red light going off. >> rivera: it is a red light. and i think that's why we made some modifications to athletics.
did i swing the pendulum far enough? it probably depends on who you ask. ask the kid who got a full ride, we did okay. ask the family who got quarantined multiple times? maybe we didn't. >> dickerson: do they have to wear masks when they're indoors playing sports? >> rivera: they do not, it is not a requirement. >> dickerson: now, why is that? because you got-- you have to do it in the class. >> rivera: yeah. so we quite frankly, as i sit here at the end of winter sports season, and i now have the data that we have from the c.d.c., would i make different decision? maybe. >> dickerson: so how does it feel to basically have that ball hanging in the air? that you made a choice, and that things might go south? >> rivera: so it depends on when you ask me, right? so i can sit here with you now and say that we've had no students die, no staff die because of indoor athletics. and maybe we've been lucky. maybe we've been safer. i-- i'm trying to understand that >> dickerson: though 60% of
marietta's students qualify for free or reduced meals, the school district has a strong tax base, healthy budgets, and modern facilities. implementing safety measures may be a lot harder in less well- funded school districts. >> biden: thank you for being here. >> dickerson: the $1.9 trillion covid relief package that president biden signed includes $126 billion for k through 12 schools. 20% of that money has been earmarked to help the tens of millions of students who are believed to have fallen behind because of the pandemic. >> rivera: we will have children who will carry trauma and learning loss, i believe, for their entire educational you know, trajectory. and i think that's what's so important. like, how are we amidst the exhaustion that our educators feel, like, how are we going to proactively respond to that? we've got to close this covid gap. >> dickerson: because if you don't close it, it gets bigger over time. >> rivera: yeah, exponentially bigger.
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>> dickerson: in march, 2020, just a year ago, newspapers, broadcasters, politicians and the authors of buzzword-laden corporate memos adopted the clicheé: "the new normal." all the awkward, little inhumanities of pandemic life would become the "new normal." masks, working and learning in isolation, empty streets, abandoned restaurants-- the inability to hug a relative-- all were "the new normal." you don't hear that phase much anymore. we know better. we continue to observe all the protocols and progress toward vaccinated immunity, but there's been nothing normal about the past year, new or otherwise. i'm john dickerson. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." ( ticking ) there are many reasons for waiting to visit your doctor right now. but if you're experiencing irregular heartbeat, heart racing, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue or light-headedness,
don't wait to contact your doctor. because these symptoms could be signs of a serious condition like atrial fibrillation. which could make you about five times more likely to have a stroke. your symptoms could mean something serious, so this is no time to wait. talk to a doctor, by phone, online, or in-person. so this is no time to wait. ♪ mom and dad left costa rica, 1971. dad was a bus driver at the chicago transit authority. mom expressed herself through her food. that was her passion. and on august 20th, 1990, they opened lrazu. last year business was great. and then the pandemic hit. we had to reset. the city had said that pick up and delivery was still viable. that kept us afloat. in the summer, we were so excited to have our customers back on our patio. safely of course.
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